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Gun Sales Surged in 2020, a Year Roiled by Pandemic Anxiety and Political Uncertainty

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Gun Sales Surged in 2020, a Year Roiled by Pandemic Anxiety and Political Uncertainty

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Gun sales in the United States set a new record in 2020, FBI statistics show, sending America’s arsenal to new heights in a year scarred by the pandemic and marked by social and political tension. In 2020, federal authorities carried out more than 39.5 million firearms background checks, which serve as a proxy for gun sales. Staff at the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) processed nearly 4 million checks in December, the busiest month on record. Since launching in 1998, the NICS system has processed more than 300 million checks, including over 1.5 million denials. But while the gun sales trend has seen a steady rise since 2005, when nearly 9 million checks were done, the past year saw extraordinary activity, with almost 40 percent more checks compared to 2019. Gun sales tend to see a spike in election years, but experts say new trends were visible in 2020, a …

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